Personnel Management & Human Resources
How to Succeed With Personnel / HR Records
Maintaining secure and complete personnel records is critical in today's litigious environment. It's critical for a department of human resources to have proper policies in place for personnel record retention and access. Keeping a personnel file in good order can ensure compliance with labor law and avoid a claim of wrongful termination or employee discrimination. Training human resources staff in efficient record-keeping methods is essential to the success of personnel management. The following will provide an overview of effective management of personnel records.
Important Issues in Handling Personnel Records
Labor Law - There are various areas of law that apply to personnel records, including discrimination law, tax law, immigration law, and more. There are numerous employment regulations under PRWORA, COBRA. HIPAA. IRCA, FACTA, EEO-1, and others, that impose reporting requirements and legal standards. Many programs in human resource management are offered today, and the study of applicable laws is necessary to obtaining a human resource certificate.
Employee Privacy - The proper maintenance of a personnel file seeks to avoid violation of employee rights to privacy. Therefore, for example, medical records and doctor notes need to be kept in a separate file.
Record Retention - There are applicable legal standards for records retention and record destruction. The length of time varies according to the governing law. Often, records must be retained for years after employment termination.
Types of Files Kept by an Office of Personnel Management
- Medical records - This includes anything containing medical information, such as insurance information, leave requests, doctor's examination or notes, accident, injury, and workers' compensation reports. It is important for the personnel department to limit access and keep the information in this file private.
- I-9 records - Immigration laws need to be considered in staffing a workplace. Required I-9 documentation and the I-9 form should be filed separately.
- Supervisory records - Even in an employment at will situation, these records are needed to avoid a claim of wrongful discharge. Be sure to include any documentation related to a notice of termination or employment termination letter in a segregated file. Because performance reviews and employee misconduct reports contain subjective opinions, these records should be kept in a separate, private file.
- Payroll records - These records include compensation, attendance, hours, garnishments, and more. While important for tax withholding, they also serve to calculate benefits, raises, and bonuses. Because much outsourcing of payroll duties occurs, the professionalism of the payroll personnel is important.
- Investigation records - When there's an employee complaint, any investigatory materials, such as witness statements, employee interviews, or lawyer recommendations, should be separately filed.
- Background checks - Records regarding criminal history and credit reports should be maintained in their own file.
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